It’s that time of year again. Days are shorter and nights are longer. And many of us are feeling a bit sluggish. There’s a cure for that!
We’ve all heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the need for natural light to feel well. This is because sunlight helps us with hormonal regularity and well being. There’s also evidence that we may be harmed by artificial light like fluorescent light found in office buildings and department stores. Artificial light has a measurable effect both physically and mentally.
Research has found that if light intake changes as little as 10%—moving from natural light to unnatural light—it can lead to a negative affect on individuals both physically and mentally—making us feel sleepier and less energetic.
The amount of natural light we take in has direct effect on our mood and our physical health. Sunlight directly affects the levels of serotonin and the hormone melatonin created in our bodies. When we have sufficient serotonin levels, we feel immersed with a sense of well being—we feel calm, alert, adept. A serotonin deficiency can bring about negative changes to mood and emotional balance. Lack of sunlight—and the lack of serotonin that comes with it—are linked to SAD, PMS, depression, irritability, weight gain, and migraines. Our sleep is disrupted when we don’t generate enough melatonin, which is mainly released in the brain and helps regulate our biological clock, aiding us in sleep.
Rx = More Sunlight
For most people, 20 minutes sunlight is necessary for hormonal regularity. Even more beneficial for those with mild cases of SAD, 30 minutes of exercise in the morning sun may be all that is needed to feel better. For people who suffer with more severe cases, that need may be as high as 2 hours of sun exposure a day.